Scottish-American comedian Craig Ferguson has been praised after a 2007 monologue about Britney Spears went viral.
The former Late Late Show host refused to mock the troubled pop star when her life was falling apart under the media spotlight. She had shaved her head days earlier.
Spears’s ordeal has returned to the headlines following the release of New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears, which explores the 39-year-old’s public unravelling.
While other late night hosts of the era poked fun at the singer, Ferguson refused.
“I’m starting to feel uncomfortable about making fun of these people,” Glasgow-born Ferguson said in his opening monologue from February 2007.
“For me, comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it. It should be about us attacking the powerful people. Attacking the politicians and the Trumps and the blowhards. Go after them. We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable people.
“This is totally a mea culpa. This is just for me. I think my aim’s been off a bit, recently. I want to change it a bit. So tonight – no Britney Spears jokes.
“This woman has two kids, she’s 25 years old, she’s a baby herself. She’s a baby.”
Ferguson, who has battled alcoholism, was widely praised online.
One Twitter user said of the monologue: “I remember seeing this & feeling relief that somebody powerful thought this way. We were luckier to have had Craig Ferguson on TV than we maybe realised. A decent voice.”
Another said: “The Craig Ferguson monologue when Britney shaved her head was one of the most important things I ever heard. Literally changed the way I saw the world.”
And one wrote: “I love Craig Ferguson even more. He has a heart. A big one.”
Spears was one of the world’s biggest pop stars but her career is essentially on hold amid an ongoing legal dispute with her father, Jamie.
Her life has been controlled by a conservatorship since 2008 and she has said she will not perform again while Jamie is in control.
Amid the continued fallout from Framing Britney Spears, the singer’s boyfriend, Sam Asghari, publicly criticised her father.
He wrote on Instagram: “Now it’s important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way.
“In my opinion Jamie is a total dick.”
Asghari, an actor originally from Iran, added: “I won’t be going into details because I’ve always respected our privacy but at the same time I didn’t come to this country to not be able to express my opinion and freedom.”
A hearing in the conservatorship case is due to take place in Los Angeles on Thursday.